Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Zucchinis and New Mommies - Parshat Shemot Part II

I had every intention of making the zucchini tart from last week's post by Thursday and letting you all know about it. But things got busy and we flew out to Chicago for our nephew's bris. Luckily, the ingredients sat waiting patiently for me in the fridge and this morning at 7 a.m. I whipped this tart up and plan to enjoy it tomorrow for lunch.

The funny thing is that I made a dairy version of the tart while away in Chicago for the weekend. We arrived a few days earlier than the bris with the promise to cook Shabbat meals for the new mommies and daddies. The Friday afternoon that had seemed clear for a slow shopping trip and ample cooking time disappeared as Uncle Sam got caught up with his nephew's train sets. Soon we had less than two hours to grocery shop for two meals (eight people each) in an unfamiliar store (not a quick process) and cook it all in an unfamiliar kitchen (also, not so quick). I had the zucchini tart on the menu, in addition to some fresh salads (with the world's best AND easiest dressing, the recipe for which I'll divulge below), ginger carrot squash soup (a recipe you'll have to wait for) and quinoa with crainsins and almonds.

In the interest of time I made a lot of shortcuts and compromises while buying the groceries - I bought baby carrots and pre-cut squash in the produce dept for the soup and frozen pie crusts in the freezer section for the tarts. When we got set up in the kitchen, Sam and I were racing around Iron Chef style. This is often what my Shabbat preparations look like at home, and I have dreamed about producing a cooking competition modeled after the pressures a working woman faces when preparing for a big Shabbat meal. With some more corner cutting, Sam's help and the help of 18 extra minutes, everything got completed. Sadly, I didn't have time to create the sliced zucchini lattice. However, I did discover that this recipe goes perfectly into frozen pie crusts and I would recommend it as a first choice for busy cooks who might be making this recipe (I have changed the recipe in the previous post to reflect this discovery). The dairy version of the tart (with cheese instead of tofu and milk instead of soy milk) was a real crowd-pleaser. One mommy who ended up with the leftovers even used it as nursing fuel the next day!

This morning's non-dairy batch smelled delish. I did make a few mistakes along the way - I bought puff pastry shells instead of a sheet last week, so I sort of formed the six shells into a circle on a baking sheet and baked away. I should have placed them in a baking dish, which would have helped retain more liquid. I had a challenge cutting the yellow squash into slices as pretty as the zucchini slices - the yellow squash seemed to have more disruptive seeds and a pear shape. I ended up only using some of the yellow strips and mostly green ones. But it all worked out in the end - the lattice came out nice and I used red onion in the filling which added a nice touch of color and a sharper fragrance.

Now, onto that promised dressing. If you have ever spent a Shabbat meal at our house you have probably tasted this salad dressing recipe and gushed to me how much you liked it and wondered what was in it. I always happily share it, and now here it is for your constant access. I make this pretty regularly during the week as well when I pack salads for lunch. My mom got the recipe from a friend from Riverdale named Etti, whose family is Sephardic, more than a decade ago. It was a staple in my mom's repertoire ever since and I am happy to have adopted it too. Two things - be sure to use freshly peeled garlic as well as a good garlic crusher (my favorite!), and use fresh lemon juice with an easy lemon squeezer (such as this one). Replacing these two ingredients with anything bottled or jarred will not result in the tantalizing dressing I make.

Look for this week's portion post in the next day or so!

My Go to Salad Dressing

1 garlic clove
1 lemon
2 teaspoons of olive oil
Dash of water
1 teaspoon or coarse salt

Cut the lemon in half and squeeze both halves with a handled squeezer into a cup. Crush the garlic clove with a good quality crusher (I love the one I linked to above because you don't have to peel the garlic and it's a cinch to clean) into the cup. Add oil, water and salt. Mix it up. Pour over the salad before serving and prepare to pucker and dig in for more.


  1. Lovely lattice, lady. I do love your lemony dressing. Thanks for posting the recipe here. And you know, now that you mention it, I should trot out my garlic press more often.

  2. Ah Jess, I love and appreciate all of your comments! If your current garlic press should ever let you down I recommend that you try the one I linked to - Sam researched it when we were registering for our wedding. We gave one to my mom last year for her birthday. She forgot to bring it with her on her snowbird sojourn in Florida and was missing it so much that for Chanukah I sent her one there and she is very relieved!